Ruth Pitman flies to Paraguay today to spend three weeks assisting Beryl Baker in her comprehensive but lonely medical ministry to needy people in the Chaco. Pray for Ruth’s adjustment and that she will bring great encouragement to Beryl.
Paraguay has again been put on a Dengue Fever alert. There have been 150 suspected cases of the mosquito-born disease this year. In 2007 an epidemic of Dengue caused 27,000 cases and 17 deaths. A number of SAMS Mission Partners caught the disease last year. Anyone who has had Dengue before is more at risk of the more dangerous form of dengue haemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome. Please pray for our mission partners health at this time.
The full story is on the BBC website.
Bishop Andrés Rodríguez who, following Bishop John Ellison’s retirement, has oversight of the Diocese of Paraguay until the appointment of a new diocesan bishop. Bishop Andrés is extremely busy with all the extra responsibilities and this is the hottest part of the year. Pray for him and his wife Estela, and also for the procedures to appoint a successor to Bishop John. A vote could be taken at a diocesan synod in March.
There was a tearfull goodbye in the airport for Bishop John and Judy Ellison after ninteen years
faithful service in Paraguay. His firm and determinded leadership has seen the Anglican Church of
Paraguay into the twenty first century more united than ever.
Read more in the Brices’ prayer letter.
St. Andrew’s College report, December 2007
School finished at the end of November as exams finished and reports were given out. The staff carried on coming to school until December 12th when we finished with a big staff lunch in the school hall. There were well over 100 people there. The office staff finished on Wednesday this last week and the workmen all have staggered holidays so that maintenance work can continue throughout the holiday period. Of course there is no-one in school now or for the next few days. We carried on going into school with the office staff but not staying all day. Friday was the first day we didn’t go in and we felt like our holiday was starting.
The school year carried on in the same way it started! It’s been a very difficult year but there have also been times of great blessings…so I supposed we shouldn’t be surprised at the problems!! In August we had two weeks in which Linn and the two of us managed to teach all the primary children English…with the help of lots of classroom assistants. At the same time Mags taught her 9th grade and Gwen took on the infant class. We had a good time doing a project in those two weeks and the kids seemed happy enough. Then Naomi arrived and took Babs’ classes and was with us until Babs returned at the end of September. I don’t think she found it easy coming into a new environment with no Spanish and everyone rushed off their feet. Still, she survived and returned to England in October.
Elaine Black arrived also and settled into her two classes quickly. In October she went to St Andrew’s students and came back feeling ill and was diagnosed with Giardia, a very resistant parasite. She was very ill for a few weeks. I think she thought she’d never recover. A few visits to the hospital and to various doctors finally saw her right but by then the term had ended and she’d missed the final part! It reached the point where her 3rd grade class asked the helper if she felt ok as all their teachers seem to get ill. They haven’t managed a whole year with one English teacher for the past three years due to illness!! We’ve had to promise the parents we’ll put in someone who looks likely to stay the course next year!!
Elva’s absence was obvious during the year with various people trying to cover her work. We have now appointed someone for the job for next year. We interviewed quite a few people but finally chose the maths teacher already in school and then had to appoint a new maths teacher! One of the secretaries in the secondary school stepped off the bus at the end of July and her coat got caught in it and she was dragged along with the bus going over her feet. She was off school for the next three months. Thankfully one of the top traumatologists has a child in school and he managed to operate on Mati’s foot in the state hospital and so it was all done free. That was another job to be covered in the secondary.
The end of year celebrations went very well. The infants did a lovely show for their parents and the hall was packed out. The primary act was a little too squashed in the hall with 6 classes and their parents and other family members . It was a Christingle service. Sadly the parents seemed to have come for a show, to watch their children perform, and so it wasn’t quite what it was meant to be . I think a new venue is called for, for next year. The 9th grade service was held in the cathedral and there was a lovely atmosphere there. The 9th grade are a very special class and it was very moving to hear even the big lads giving a testimony as to what God has done in them this year. There weren’t many dry eyes in the building…except for those who didn’t understand the English!! The 6th form had their leaving service in the chapel and each one was prayed for and then given a candle to go out and shine as lights in the world. The next evening was their graduation service which is an official “do” with people from the Ministry of Education there. The top pupils have to give a speech and , again, it was amazing to hear their testimonies as to what God is doing in their lives. Bishop Andres came down from Concepcion and at the end was asked to pray. He said he’d listened to English and understood not a word and so he was going to ask permission to speak in Guarani …. which he did! He then took hold of the school flag and the Paraguayan flag and prayed for the country and the school. The parents gave him a round of applause!
The annexe school was not forgotten in all this. We also went to all their end of year celebrations and enjoyed seeing how much the Lord is blessing the school there. We were even given a meal there. That was one of many we were offered in this time as we also went to parties for our 6th grade and 6th form.
In between all this we had school each day and it was in this time that a number of parents chose to come and share what they thought was wrong with the school! It wasn’t an easy time but we tried to make all feel welcome to come and to be listened to and to give an answer where possible. Some of the problems centred round our lack of English staff and especially a stable English staff. We would ask your prayers for more people to be called to join us who are willing to commit to more than just a few years with us. Other problems are now noted to be worked on for next year. Some families have taken their children out of school. One family went because he said we didn’t offer enough sports. Having also said the English wasn’t too good he then came back to say how he’d been congratulated on his children’s level of English in an American school. It seems you can’t win with some people although we have tried to meet with folks to help where we can.
Christmas seemed to come early to Paraguay and there are now no more Christmas services in the Anglican church this year! We had a big Christmas service in the Cathedral on Sunday night (16th) and 9 lessons and carols on Wednesday in the English church. Both were very well attended. In fact, the service in the cathedral was extra special for us as we saw quite a few of our ex pupils taking part in the service, in the music, reading, sound system and then giving the talk. It was like a dream come true to see our ex pupils so involved. They are the result of Patrick’s work in the Youth Encounters. Since his return Patrick has also led a big assembly once a month for the secondary. They go into the cathedral and it’s quite amazing to see the joy on the pupil’s faces as they join in there.
We are here for Christmas. The main celebration being tonight, Christmas Eve, but we are having a Christmas meal tomorrow with Irish Elaine and her boyfriend who’s here for a visit. On Wednesday we expect Claire to arrive from Concepcion and on Thursday we are off to the beach in Brazil for a week and Claire is coming with us. We hope to come back via Curitiba, a city in Brazil, but so far haven’t been successful in booking a hotel. Our animals are all fine and enjoying having us home a bit more although they don’t tend to understand holidays and still wake us at 6 am for breakfast! Olga will come as usual to look after them whilst we are away.
Thankyou to everyone for all your support and prayers. They really do mean a lot to us. We’d like to be able to thank you all for the Christmas cards too but we haven’t had any post from England for ages!! So, we have no English cards, nor the presents we know our families have posted! The last thing to arrive here was posted on Nov 11th so we are living in hope that our things will arrive soon!!
May the joy of the Lord be yours this Christmas and in the New year.
God Bless, Love from Mags and Gwen
Mission Paraguay sends teams of volunteers out to work alongside the Anglican Church in practical projects, community based work, childrens’ activities and social projects. In 2007 41 volunteers, backed by many churches and organizations, spent June to August working in and around Asuncion, Concepción and the Chaco. Many worked on projects started by previous teams and this report will provide an update on the work.
The report includes details on:
- Roque Alonso
- Esperanza Foster Home
- Concepción – Inmaculada
- Chaco – Para Todoi
- Childrens’ work
- Past projects – Yatnata and Zeballos Cue
- Mission Paraguay 2008
Download the full report with photo. (9MB PDF)
Paraguay gets under your skin. It is a subtle thing, something to do with the place (vast expanses of palm trees and swamps, and dusty cities) and it is something to do with the poverty that you see, in its varied forms, wherever you go. But mostly, I think, it is to do with the people. The people I met were warm hearted; they approached us as friends. They demonstrated their faithfulness and love for God by greeting us as family members. They challenged my understanding of reliance on prayer for every aspect of their lives.
Sarah Holman who worked at Concepción
Let’s give thanks that the proposed degree course at FEISA, the Anglican Training College for Early Years Teachers in Paraguay, has been accepted and approved. Please pray for a good intake of students for its commencement next year, and for rest and refreshment for Head Estela de López and her staff during the summer recess.
God’s work in Paraguay
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to one hope when you were called-one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
Last September, I went to Paraguay to visit my friends and sisters, Claire and Raquel. It’s amazing the way God works things out. As most of you know, one of my deepest desires was to spend some time with Claire working with children, sharing our passion and love for Jesus and learning from one another. This time I was traveling with a friend from my church, who also is interested in mission, she is called Vanina.
I went there full of expectations, wishing to be used for the glory of God. I was hungry of his wisdom and hoping He could keep giving me the Passion I needed to keep doing this. He provided me with everything I needed; he looked after me as a Father can do. I didn’t need to worry about the time, money, a place to stay or even the company since I was not traveling on my own.
After many hours of traveling (32 approximately) we arrived at Concepción. There, my friend and sister in the Lord was waiting for us. Claire looked sleepy, well I think all of us, after all it was almost 4.30 a.m. when we arrived.
After resting almost the whole morning Claire came to see us and introduced to the rest of the people of the church. We could feel the welcome, the people were absolutely friendly. I just wanted to start working with Claire; I didn’t want to waste time. But she had some others things in mind, she wanted me to rest and do things little by little. I respected that, because I knew there was going to be a good result from all of this. She wanted me to have a time for myself, something that I hadn’t be able to have at home, may be because of everything I had lived with my mum’s illness or just because I never stop. I listened to her carefully because she had lived exactly the same thing as I was living, I knew in a way she could understand my pain. God gave me the opportunity to share with her my suffering, my concern about my family, about our future as a family… in few words I was able to let her know myself. “Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
We did many activities, working in the open areas, teaching the gospel to the children, sharing our time with teenagers in their classes, taking part in the prayer meeting and visiting and preaching the indigenous. We had ten wonderful days sharing the Grace of the Lord, it was a time to give and receive, a time to listen to our God and try to do what He commanded us to do, to preach and let his word be taught. I saw so many faces with the need of God in their lives, so many children who know that at least once a week they will be feed with the food of the spirit and also I saw so many adults who need the presence of our Lord in their lives because they know He is “the hope” for their lives.
As I mentioned before, God had prepared everything for us, this was the perfect time for us to travel, because as soon as we arrived we were told about the centenary of the Anglican Church. We were going to be part of that celebration; I was more than thankful to God because without knowing we lived that especial moment of the Church, the Christian Church. It was so nice to see so many people proud of the work of the Lord through so many years. I heard testimonies of people who trusted the Lord as their God and now they keep serving him and working for Him and teaching their family and friends, they have the same passion for the Lord as young kids full of life.
My time there flew, without noticing the ten days had gone and now it was time to visit my friend Raquel in Asuncion. It was a little bit sad to leave Concepción because the people had given us so much love, but we needed to keep going. Asuncion was different, (not the weather though) but life is faster than in Concepción. I spent some time with Raquel who was always running from one place to the other. It was good to see her again and be with her lovely family who opened their home for us. That was our social time, most of the days we went for a walk, visiting different places and meeting our partners from SAMS G.B.
That is how I spent my time in Paraguay, I promised the Bishop I will come back next year but may be for two weeks and with three of my kids. I pray the Lord will give us the material resources to do this, I know he will…after all we have a rich Father, don’t we?
My dear brothers thank you once again for this opportunity I had to visit the Church in Paraguay. May God keep blessing his work there, and may He keep encouraging people to have the desire of serving Him.